Today we have the most beautiful of Christ’s sermons, the beatitudes. They are his commandments, not a list of laws, but ways to be happy and blessed children of God. Lets heed these wonderful guides and confess any ways we fail to do so..
“I have a dream”, you may know the Martin Luther King speech and its importance for the rights struggle in the US. Today’s gospel is Christ’s “I have a dream” speech, a charter for his new kingdom people on earth. Very simply, it puts purity of heart before the law. It puts the horse of spirituality before the cart of morality. In the old testament law was everything, as moral strictness was in a pre-Vatican 11 Catholic church. Christ’s beatitudes are a necessary corrective to that. Which is why people like Gandhi found them so beautiful. Christ has no “thou shalt nots”. Rather he lists the inner attitudes we need to have to lead a good life. And at their heart is a simple trust in God’s values against those of a ruthless world.
As such the beatitudes, so-called because of their first word “blessed”, are a blueprint for the new world order Christ came to establish. Luke in today’s gospel has only three but they’re filled out in Matthew to eight. But even Luke’s shortened list is so powerful. Take the first “blessed are the poor in spirit”. Christ is not saying its good to be poor but that God compensates the poor for the injustices they suffer in this world. God takes the part of the poor as we should, endorses their struggle, and ensures their place in heaven. But there is more than that in Christ’s words. He gives us the solution to poverty by asking rich and poor alike to put service of God and others before ruthless pursuit of wealth. He asks us to free our hearts from greedy possessiveness, the root of all injustice. That’s the only way to end injustice – generosity, concern for all, equal sharing of resources is the blessed way for individuals and society.
But Christ says that the more we follow this way of freedom and generosity the happier we’ll be and the more friends we’ll have. But he also warns that the corrupt world will hate us. Well show how evil, useless and unsatisfying its materialistic, violent, greedy values are. Holy people loved by the world are almost certainly false prophets.
For, like Christ, any commitment to do what’s just will make us blessed of God, but hated by the world. As one holy man said the test of how well we are following Christ is how much the world makes us suffer. Christ himself, the holiest person who ever lived, died the worst possible death. His crime, showing up the Pharisees and Romans, cruel and cynical exponents of this world’s wealth and power politics. They couldn’t stand him and thought they’d destroy his vision by killing him. But he kept on trying to save them, trying to show them the way to real happiness.
The lesson for us is clear, despite opposition from the world we must continue to witness to God’s justice and that of his Christ; in poverty of spirit, in overflowing love and in an inner freedom and generosity that knows no bounds. For the resultant happiness and salvation for ourselves and the world will make it more that worthwhile. Even in this life we will be blessed and in the world to come raised to the eternal bliss of the blessed. For we’ll have helped in whatever small way to bring about the dream of our Lord. Our life will have been worth while and finally we’ll share in the glory of our Savior, forever and ever, amen.
So as God’s people called to the inner way of the beatitudes, the way of freedom from slavery to possessions, we profess our faith.
Prayers of the Faithful
And as God’s people lets pray for the things we really need..
For the Pope and bishops of the church that eschewing the pomp and ceremony of palaces and wealth they may be an example to the flock of freedom from possessiveness, the way of life…
For civil leaders that they may not lord it over people in service of their own power and interests but be humble servants of the common good, and all the people who elected them..
For our youth that they may not be enslaved by the pursuit of wealth and big houses to the extent that they lose their souls..
For ourselves; in our homes, community and work place may we put love of our children, neighbors and work mates before the ruthless pursuit of wealth and the tyranny of keeping up with the Joneses.
For the sick, the aged, the lonely and the oppressed that through the time we make for them, and the care we give, they may know that they are special and loved by God for themselves..
For the dead that free from their mortal chains they may rise to the glory of heaven with the help of our generous prayers..
We ask all these things through Christ who though he had “nowhere to lay his head” is lord of all forever and ever, amen.
Our Irish patroness St.Brigid is know for her holiness and service of the poor. When young her father wanted to marry her off to a rich man to raise the family’s wealth, but she was determined to enter the convent and give her life to helping the poor. So all her beauty broke out in warts and ugliness until the rich man refused her hand. Then when she entered the convent all her beauty returned. For true beauty comes from within and goodness of heart. Lets pray to mother Mary that we’ll learn such wisdom of heart and know what the important things in life are, that everything cannot be measured in money terms..Hail Mary